Although Rory MacDonald has lost to Robbie Lawler before, it sounds like Johny Hendricks believes the new champ’s in for a stiff, stiff test on July 11th.
As you know, MacDonald and Lawler are set to meet at UFC 189, which will mark the second time they’ve fought. The two battled in November, 2013, and Lawler emerged with the split decision win. After the victory, Lawler was tapped to face Hendricks for the vacant title in March, 2014, but was decisioned by “Bigg Rigg.” In their rematch last December, however, Lawler laid claim to the welterweight belt by scoring a decision victory.
“The first fight was close,” said Hendricks. “It was closer than I remember, because every time I looked up I hear the crowd yelling and I was like ‘oh man’. At first I was like ‘oh man, Robbie Lawler really took it to Rory MacDonald’, and then I re-watched it. I thought it was a lot closer than before. I still think Lawler won, but I think it was a lot closer than I even gave credit to him. Because you know, I’m in the back warming up…
“He’s (MacDonald) got great coaches, he’s going to figure out a way. They’re game-planners. They’re guys that are going to do this, this, and this, and they’re going to make sure that everything runs to a ‘T’, and so this one I’m actually sort of excited to see, because Robbie Lawler. you can never count him out of a fight, because no matter what you do he seems like he’s always in it. So this is a fight that’s going to be, can Robbie Lawler walk him down and land that punch? Or can Rory MacDonald keep him at bay, keep him at distance and get the win?”
Really, it’s not too surprising to hear Hendricks say this, as the first encounter between Lawler and MacDonald was close, and there’s no question that the latter has looked impressive since the defeat. MacDonald has gone 3-0 now since he faced Lawler, and has defeated Demian Maia, Tyron Woodley and Tarec Saffiedine.
Hendricks also relayed that while he like to have a rubber match with Lawler, he’s intrigued by the prospect of training for someone new.
Initially, it looked like the UFC was going to move forward with Lawler-Hendricks III, but the new champ elected to take some time off, and the latter decided to fight Matt Brown. Hendricks won the bout via unanimous decision, and as a result, he could very well be tapped to face the winner of Lawler-MacDonald.